Portrait Of A Young Man (called The Artist) – Antonello Da Messina

ABOUT 1430-1479

I can not ascertain on what grounds the debonair young person whom this picture represents has been identified as the portrait of the artist himself, but such was its title as far back as 1879 when lent by its owner at that time, Henry Willet, to the Royal Academy Exhibition. The sitter is a pretty and care-less young man of about seventeen, seemingly, looking straight at the spectator. No boy of that age, even in the golden age of the Renaissance when the precocity of artists was so astounding, was capable of the mastery which this work displays.

Modern research places 1430 as the year of the artist’s birth and his earliest picture of which the date is known is the Salvator Mundi of the National Gallery, painted in 1465. The suavity and accomplishment of the painting in our picture indicate a very much later time than the Salvator Mundi. Antonello must have been middle-aged at the time of its execution, judging from the known dates.